1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Bioenergy: how to measure the efficiency of different materials

  1. Feb 22, 2012 #1
    Hello all! I chose not to follow the given format, as my question is kind of unique. I hate to be one of those people who just create an account for one thread (as I usually try to avoid this), but my situation is quite urgent.

    I have a project due Friday, in which I plan to take different materials from where I live and measure there efficiency as biofuels. (different woods, plants, etc.).

    So, my questions are:

    1. What is a simple method in which I could measure the energy of different materials that I (basically) am going to find in my back yard (it doesn't necessarily have to be "scientific". If the only method of accomplishing this without a lab is to set it on fire and describe the flames, please do say so).

    2. If I can scientifically measure this, what units would I use?

    Thank you all in advanced. I'm really hesitant on whether I am actually going to do any of this, as the teacher most definitely wouldn't be trying something like this herself. I know this may sound dishonest of me, but I could rant for hours about some of the assignments she has assigned us : )

    Nick
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 23, 2012 #2

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    You are looking for a heat of combustion (check units in wikipedia), it requires a bomb calorimeter to be done properly.
     
  4. Feb 23, 2012 #3

    Ygggdrasil

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    A rough way to do this measurement would be to burn the materials underneath a can of water and measure the temperature change of the water after burning. This could probably be done in a way that the results would reflect the relative energy density (e.g. energy per unit mass) of the different materials.
     
  5. Feb 23, 2012 #4
    That sounds like a possibility. Thanks!
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook